Student org decreases food waste by helping Baltimore charity
Every Friday, Lilian Cavanagh, accompanied by one to three other University of Maryland, Baltimore County students, enters The Commons’ loading dock and slips into The Commons’ kitchen, an area typically reserved for employees. Instead of getting kicked out, the students are greeted by the kitchen staff who direct them to a large pile of food that is theirs for the taking. Cavanagh, a junior mechanical engineering major, is the president of the Food Recovery Network, a student organization that collects food to donate to local charities. Cavanagh joined the club her freshman year with the intention of lowering food waste to help the environment. She transitioned from director of operations to president this year after the previous executive board members graduated.
The Food Recovery Network is a chapter of a national nonprofit by the same name, which promotes college students across the country to recover perishable foods that otherwise would be thrown out by campus dining halls. According to the Food Recovery Network’s website, the organization started in 2011 at the University of Maryland, College Park. Two years later, UMBC founded its own chapter and has now donated over 7,000 pounds of food. (This figure excludes the current academic year’s donations).
The Food Recovery Network works in collaboration with Chartwells, the company that operates UMBC’s dining services. Chartwells supplies the club with food from Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Outtakes. The club collects the food on Fridays because most of the food expires over the weekends and would have to be thrown out.Lilian Cavanaugh and Eleanor Nancarrow take food from The Commons kitchen to donate to Baltimore area charities. Photo by Alex McKenzie.
“Our relationship has strengthened a lot with Chartwells,” Cavanagh said. “They make it as easy as possible for us.”